Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Thesis Statements Revisited

In Seamus Heaney's poem "The Underground" a tone of worried flight is created by a series of threatening images that fuse together a harried run in a modern subway and a classical myth about the destructive powers of doubt. The whole sweep of the poem resembles Ovid's myth of Orpheus and Eurydice: the man-poet running ahead of his beloved, his powers of art having tricked Hades into releasing Eurydice who dies of a serpent's bite. The one condition of escape is not to look back, to trust. In the myth, Orpheus looks, and fails. In Heaney's poem, his young husband simply feels the tug of the underground, so to speak, as image after image piles on the tension, magnifying the temptation to doubt his bride, and lose her forever.

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